Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: The Black Angels - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
The Black Angels | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

For this latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session, we’re joined in the studio by The Black Angels. The band has acted both as torchbearers of gloomy, doomy psychedelia as well as cornerstones of their hometown’s experimental music scene. Along with a stellar catalog of albums and EPs, The Black Angels are the head honchos of Levitation, the gathering formerly known as Austin Psych Fest. Armed with a special array of (mostly) acoustic instruments, The Black Angels beamed themselves into our studio to perform selections from their newest album, Death Song.

The setlist for this session showcases Death Song‘s more ethereal moments, playing to the strengths of the band’s particular choice of instruments. Alex Maas forgoes his usual bass guitar and vintage keyboard in favor of a haunting harmonium. Christian Bland and Kyle Hunt opt for ominously strummed acoustic guitars while Jake Garcia adds flavor with his tremelo-heavy electric. Drummer Stephanie Hunt, upon entering the studio, told me that she’d just need a snare and floor tom. I thought she was going to bring in her own remaining pieces, not realizing until the band started warming up that those two drums were the only ones she’d be playing. The performance starts with “Estimate,” a dirge-like reflection on war and destruction that could double as a song of devotion (that dichotomy is a major theme in Black Angels songs). Next is “I’d Kill For Her,” which here is given an insistent, “Waiting For The Man”-esque pulse alongside some ghostly harmonies. Finally is “Half Believing,” my personal favorite track from Death Song. What begins as a rather hushed song blossoms into a lush chorus where Maas’ pleading vocals are contrasted by his harmonium’s low drone.

Listen to the Black Angels’ full Indie Rock Hit Parade session below, and check out some photos from the studio!

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